You’ve probably heard of intuitive eating. It’s a popular topic on social media. And while I’m a huge fan of intuitive eating (it helped me heal my own relationship with food and I’ve helped many clients turn their relationship with food around following intuitive eating principles) there is a lot of misinformation about what intuitive eating is and is not.
In case you’re not familiar with Intuitive eating, let me briefly explain what it is. If you’re interested in learning more you can also check out this Youtube video of Intuitive Eating founder Evelyn Tribole talking on Youtube (it’s a little long but good info 😊) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSpzf72S6IY. Intuitive eating is a non-diet approach to healing your relationship with food. It follows 10 principles and is a plan that was developed by 2 dietitians. The idea is to help you become more aware of your natural hunger cues and cravings so that you can stop when you’re full and eat the foods that you authentically want. This can be super helpful for anyone struggling with chronic dieting, anxious eating or eating disorder recovery. However, there’s also a lot of confusion about what intuitive eating is and how it works.
The most common things I hear are “Intuitive eating means eating whatever you want’’. I also hear “there’s no structure with intuitive eating.” Or, “there’s no way I can do intuitive eating. I’d just buy a bunch of chips and cookies and binge all day.” I understand these fears. But let me assure you that intuitive eating is not about eating cookies and pizza all day. There is structure to intuitive eating and the goal is not to stuff yourself and feel sick or guilty. I’ve outlined a few secrets of successful intuitive eating below. You can also look at these as myth-busters.
Secret #1: Follow the Plan’s Structure
I often hear people say “there’s no structure to intuitive eating!’’ However, this is far from the truth. If you’re used to diets that tell you what foods you can or can’t eat or when to eat, intuitive eating will be a shift. The program is based on helping you listen to your body and identify your natural hunger/fullness cues. There are 10 steps to intuitive eating which include learning how to identify your physical v. emotional hunger and learning how to stop eating when you are physically full and satisfied. It can be scary to shift away from a diet mentality and intuitive eating is not a diet. However there definitely is structure to intuitive eating and if you follow the steps, you’ll be able to learn how to trust your body v. a fad diet to know how to feed and care for yourself.
Secret #2: Intuitive Eaters learn how to stop emotionally eating and bingeing
The second fear I hear about intuitive eating is “there’s no way I can do that! I would just binge on pizza or cookies all day!” I completely understand this fear. If you’re an anxious or binge eater or struggling with chronic dieting I get this very real fear. However, intuitive eating will help you reduce and eliminate your anxious eating, bingeing or feast/famine dieting cycles. There’s a lot more too this but put simply, when you deny yourself a food it becomes really exciting. If pizza is “off limits” or “bad”. Most diets have “good” foods and “bad” foods. This makes us really want the “bad” foods and eventually binge on them or eat them when we’re feeling anxious and want some comfort. A core concept of intuitive eating is that there are no “bad” foods. Through intuitive eating you learn how to tune into your body and your body’s natural hunger cues and cravings. When all foods are an option the “bad” foods become less exciting and you’re able to eat to feed your physical body, not take care of your emotions or from a place of panic because you’re afraid you’ll never be able to eat pizza again. It can be scary and confusing to make this shift to intuitive eating (trust me I get it-when I was first introduced to intuitive eating I loved the idea but it also terrified me!) but the benefits are real and it really can help stop your anxious/emotional eating, bingeing and chronic dieting cycles.
Secret #3: Seek Out Support
Learning about and practicing intuitive eating is a big shift for most folks. Fortunately, there is lots of support available! Whether you want to go online and check out social media support (I love anti-diet riot on Instagram) or work with a counselor or dietitian who understands intuitive eating you don’t have to make this change alone! Having support can make the shift a lot less scary.